The Last Run Car Show, Arkalalah and Halloween are now behind us. We all know what that means.  Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here soon.  

I don’t know any other time of year that feels as magical as Christmas. The streets are glowing with beautiful lights and the gloomy darkness seems to disappear. Even people who are usually grouchy seem to find at least one thing to smile about.

For some, the holiday has a deep spiritual meaning. Others just enjoy the festive atmosphere and the opportunity to gather with family and friends.  Either way, as the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

I sometimes hear complaints about how Christmas has become too commercial and the true meaning of the season has been lost. I choose to look beyond the commercial and embrace what the season means to me. I refuse to allow anything to overshadow or ruin this wonderful holiday. To me, Christmas brings a message of love, hope and cheer, and it’s a time to have fun.

When it comes to Christmas I am a child at heart, and I always will be. I look forward each year to all of the things that have become part of my family’s Christmas. 

Every family has their own special traditions that they observe year after year. Those traditions are passed from one generation to the next. They keep the magic alive, and help connect one generation to the next.

My family has so many holiday traditions. 

Our outdoor lights must be ready to glow Thanksgiving night. On Christmas Eve and Christmas night, we let them shine through the entire night. Our tradition also requires that once our Christmas tree is illuminated, its lights will never be extinguished until the day we take the tree down. 

Colored lights adorn the tree all December long, but it will only have white lights on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Gifts are never placed around the tree until just before bedtime on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, the story of the nativity is always read before any gifts are opened. 

On the first weekend after Halloween, our decorations will start going up inside the house, and the following weekend we will decorate the outside. I will admit that it is a lot of work. It seems more difficult for me to accomplish each year. I am grateful that my teenage son is taking over more and more of that effort. 

He’s just as sentimental about Christmas as I am, perhaps even more so. One of our outdoor decorations is showing signs of age and keeping it operational has become difficult. When his mother suggested it might be time for a replacement, the look of horror on his face was priceless. 

“Isn’t there some way to fix it?” he asked. “We can’t get rid of it, it’s been there for every Christmas I can remember!” 

He made me promise that even if we replace it, I won’t throw it away. He insists that he will eventually find a way to restore it. Of course I will make every possible effort to keep it functioning. 

I must admit, I feel the exact same way.

As much as I love Christmas, I must confess that Christmas Day is actually my least favorite day of the year. We spend all month in eager anticipation of Christmas morning and then suddenly it’s all over. I know many people who will have their decorations down and packed away before the sun has set Christmas night. 

My favorite part of the Christmas season is not the gifts, but the season itself.  It’s always a busy time of the year, and we look forward to it.

 Several years ago, my youngest son thought it would be fun for us to stand out in front of our house dressed up as Santa, Mrs. Santa and elf Ebenezer Sugarcane to waive at the passing cars. We had a fantastic time, and it become a new family tradition. 

That tradition began as something simple, but has since evolved into an activity that we spend a lot of time planning each year. Most December evenings, you will find us in our costumes as we travel around the city, hoping to make people smile.

 I guess that is why our Christmas never ends on Christmas day. You have probably heard the song, the twelve days of Christmas. In the song, the Christmas celebration goes on for a full 12 days. That celebration gets a little crazy, with all the gifts being repeated and added to each day. We don’t carry it that far, but we do keep our decorations in place all the way to the fifth of January. Even then, my wife is reluctant to take them down.

Christmas will be here and gone before we know it. We never know what the next year will bring, so make this your best Christmas ever. Gather the family together, eat a lot of good food, put up decorations and enjoy the fun. 

After all, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or

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